I was 24 when I started Believer’s Church, and I’ve been the senior pastor of this one church for 38 years. Over the course of my time, I’ve grown in something. I’ve watched it flourish. It is my prayer life. I used to look at people who had what I would call a spirit of prayer – you know, they were just great at praying and loved to pray – and I thought, I just don’t have that gift. I prayed only when I had to pray or if I went to a corporate setting, but at home I would cry out and tell God, “I want more of that spirit of prayer!” I came to a place where I realized that everyone can pray, not just certain people. I began to cry out for it.
God opened up my life and caused me to flourish in the area of prayer when I began to want it and pray for it. I went from praying when I had to, to praying because I wanted to! What I noticed during this transformation was that greater levels of spiritual activity, supernatural things, began to take place in my church in step with the greater level of prayer I put forth. This is because a pastor’s prayer life releases the miraculous into the church.
The Apostle Paul was a man committed to prayer. In Romans 1:9, it says that he prayed day and night for the believers. He brought them before God. I wanted to be like this for the members of my church. I wanted to have a spirit of prayer like Paul.
As I began to ask the Lord to stir my desire to be a person of prayer, God honored my request and I have become the person I prayed to be. I start every day with over an hour of prayer now. I whisper prayers all day long!
When I pray outside service times, the words I share from the pulpit have more power. They make an impact on people’s lives because of the power of prayer that went on behind the scenes.
The Apostle Paul had a powerful ministry because he was a man committed to prayer. The New Testament records 43 different prayers he prayed over the churches, and I believe he prayed many, many more. When I read his prayers, I’m absolutely amazed. I want those kinds of prayers coming out of me!
We can’t delegate prayer to someone in the church. While we need to teach and release our members to pray, our prayer as pastors over the church remains essential. In my early pastorate, I thought that as long as I had other people praying, we were covered. But my prayer life really determines some powerful things within the church, and the more I pray, the more I see God move in people’s lives.
We can’t delegate our personal prayer life either. We as pastors must keep praying. It’s our responsibility. There’s a level of spiritual growth and power that comes out of our mouths because we saturate our sermons with prayer.
Personal prayer changes us more than we can imagine. It fills us with the life of God. Our family can tell if we go a couple days or weeks without really praying. Our church can tell too. We’re stripped of power in what we say and do. This is why I tell young pastors that it’s not enough for a pastor to teach, offer connect groups or set up other systems for people to grow spiritually because some growth only comes through prayer. God can’t get in there and change us unless we ask Him to do it.
Here are three scriptures we must remember as praying pastors:
Ephesians 1:15-18. Paul says that he never stops praying for the believers at Ephesus. He says that he does not cease praying. That’s a continuous state! This is intercession, supplication! It’s something we pray every day, not just one time and say, “I believe I receive it.” Paul goes on to say that he’s praying for God to give the believers a spirit of wisdom and revelation to know Him. He wants them to have a relationship with God. I pray like this for my church members and for myself, that God will help us to have a relationship with Him, a spirit of wisdom and revelation to know Him.
Philippians 1: 9-10. Paul says that his prayer is that the believers’ love would abound and that they would grow in their discernment so that they would remain pure and blameless. Prayer brings knowledge, insight and love, which we desperately need. Prayer releases God, and only God can fix us or our situations.
I Timothy 2:1-4. Paul says that we should pray for all men and for those in authority, that we would lead quiet and peaceable lives. He tells us that God wants all people to be saved. It’s important to know that Paul was an apostle during a series of evil Roman Emperors. Still, Paul told Timothy to pray for the leaders. If Paul could encourage believers to pray for the evil emperors of Rome, I think we can pray for our President and Vice President!
God told us to pray, so we know it’s not a waste of our time. Prayer is the vehicle God wants to use to move upon the earth. It’s powerful! So yes, we need to have our messages ready. We need to put time into reading and meditating on the Word. But we need to pray so that our words are wrapped in life-giving power. We need to pray so that God can get inside people and change them. It can only happen through our prayers as the leaders of His church.
Joe Cameneti, Sr. is the lead pastor of Believers Church, located in his hometown of Warren, OH. Joe, along with his wife Gina, pioneered Believers Church in 1983. In addition to leading the church, Joe is host of the television show BCTV. The program is aired locally, reaching 24,000 weekly. A gifted communicator, Joe is skilled in the art of building bridges to unchurched America. His wealth of leadership wisdom, transparency and authenticity causes leaders to walk away challenged and encouraged to connect with God in a deeper way.